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for grandparents & those who love them

Grandchildren: The Four Stages Of Conquest

The four stages of conquest


Do you ever notice that grandchildren are insidious, patient, sweet, and secret as they weave their web and easily snare you, their grandparents? Looking back, many of us happily embrace this web of cuteness and subtlety without a fight, argument, or grief.

The conquest begins with a small beachhead of toy bags sitting in a coat closet. This army grows exponentially, fed by every occasion possible:  general congratulations, birthdays, all holidays, and no-reason visits. This army grabs our legs every time we hold a coat. After fighting them off with smiles, we eagerly enter Stage 2: the Toy Box.

We bought a toy box big enough to cruise the Atlantic Ocean. After being stuffed into the toy bags, the toy box was not even half full. Instead of being astonished at the mountain of toys facing me, I was swept away with the desire to build the hill. Over the years, the Toy Box housed dolls, Legos, board games, paper, paint, play dough, trucks to be pushed, cars with controllers, walkie-talkies, and enough pretend medical devices to outfit a primary care practice. The Toy Box phase ended when its top did not touch the rest of the box.

“Once, my granddaughter ran into my office to tell me something earth-shattering while I was in a Zoom meeting.”

The third stage is acquiring THE ROOM. By now, the grandchildren are staying overnight and “need” their bedrooms. So, before my amazed eyes, my “office” and our extra bedroom became “their” bedrooms. The foldout beds transformed my “office” into one boudoir, the third bedroom into their space. While this didn’t seem like a big deal, it affected my professional life as I worked from home during the pandemic. I was exiled to the balcony during nap time to hold Zoom meetings. My colleagues laughed when we shouted into our computers to drown out the street noise below me. Afterward, I checked on the child and saw her sleeping like an angel. Once, my granddaughter ran into my office to tell me something earth-shattering while I was in a Zoom meeting. The person at the other end of the call chatted with her and later told me how much she enjoyed the seven-year-old. Who knew?

The last stage is conquering THE HOUSE.  We built a house 15 minutes instead of two hours from three grandchildren. Once we moved in, the first fully functioning room was the grandchildren’s bedroom. The bed was made, the rug laid, pictures hung, and the closet emptied. After all, the kids would stay within the first two weeks of our arrival. While the rest of the walls were bare and we awaited new living and dining room furniture, we rode a wave of happy expectations.  The kids could stay in their “own” room. But this stage had an unseen side. We had to stock the kids’ food in our refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. Shopping trips included snacks, juices, chicken nuggets, pasta, and “acceptable” vegetables on a regular instead of an “as needed” basis.

I saw our growth in this wide net of love, safety, and discovery a month later. They laugh and question the tales of the “olden days.” Why was the gray picture of old TV shows called “Black and White”? What is a pay phone? What car seats did you use growing up?

My seven decades melt away as clouds become animals, “Why” is the ubiquitous question, and rain is something to run through and laugh at. Do I love this? You bet!



Steve Chasin

About the author

Steve recently retired from a 33-year career in the Federal government. The vast majority of it was with the Food and Drug Administration, including being an economist, Deputy Division Director, and Associate Office Director for Professional Development. He now spends his time doting on, observing, and learning from his four grandchildren, who live in Richmond and Tampa.

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